Patterico's Pontifications


James Brady Death Ruled a Homicide

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:41 pm

The first thing you were probably asking yourself is: so can they now try him for murder? I thought about blogging this earlier, but then I thought about having lunch. And then I did some other stuff. At some point in there, Eugene Volokh came along and said about the same thing I would have said. (See? Sometimes if you procrastinate, someone else will come along and do the job for you!)

The short answer is: no, they can’t — mainly because the jury already found him not guilty by reason of insanity, and that finding would translate to any murder prosecution. So, while it is theoretically possible to prosecute someone for murder after they are prosecuted for attempted murder — even if they have been acquitted, depending on the defense they used! — it’s not in this case.

P.S. If you’re interested, I previously discussed the way these rules played out in the movie “Fracture” in this post from 2007. That post, like this one, used a Eugene Volokh post as its springboard.

P.P.S. Eugene also discusses something called the “year and a day rule” pursuant to which, in many jurisdictions, there can be no murder prosecution unless the death occurred within a year and a day of the act that caused it. In California, if memory serves, there is a different rule: after three years there is a presumption that the defendant’s act did not cause the death — but that presumption can be rebutted by evidence.

58 Responses to “James Brady Death Ruled a Homicide”

  1. Ding.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  2. I’ve seen this discussed on many of the news shows this evening and find it interesting that not one of them appear to have done any research into the actual legalities, nor to even question whether the NGA would come into play, even though they spoke at length about it.

    I’m guessing that the TV news folk are really as dim as many of us think they are.

    Gramps, the original (fb52f1)

  3. Unless Grady v. Gorbin has been overruled, the test is “same conduct”. It does not matter whether Hinckley was convicted or acquitted, the Double Jeopardy Clause bars successive prosecutions for the same acts of the defendant. If in order to convict Hinckley of Brady’s murder it is necessary to prove the same conduct which it was necessary to prove in his trial for attempted murder, he cannot be retried. Prof. Volokh’s authorities are not to the point and not up to date.

    nk (dbc370)

  4. nk: Grady v. Corbin was overruled by United States v. Dixon, .

    Eugene Volokh (759dc0)

  5. That’s a pretty clear overruling. Please accept my apology and my thanks, Prof. Volokh.

    nk (dbc370)

  6. It sure does seem that if a person is not culpable for the assault, he isn’t culpable for the consequences of the assault. Are there exceptions involving some standard of intent?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  7. If I were a juror in such a case, I’d not feel inclined to believe that a 73 year old died prematurely as a result of injuries suffered 33 years before. Many people are not granted that many years and die of natural causes.

    You are correct. California’s rule is “three years and a day”.

    Calif. Penal Code 194 “To make the killing either murder or manslaughter, it is not
    requisite that the party die within three years and a day after the
    stroke received or the cause of death administered. If death occurs
    beyond the time of three years and a day, there shall be a rebuttable
    presumption that the killing was not criminal. The prosecution shall
    bear the burden of overcoming this presumption.”

    David (6f3506)

  8. nk: Grady v. Corbin was overruled by United States v. Dixon, .

    Fist bump, Eugene. Wt knck nk off his high horse.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  9. The medical examiner is being flagrantly silly. He is 73 years of age. That’s an ordinary time to shuffle off this Earth, even among people without brain injuries. He’s been shlepping around mildly demented and with some mobility issues for three decades, and the family and the medical examiner are refusing to reveal his actual cause of death. An autopsy by the medical examiner under these circumstances is irregular.

    The medical examiner should be discharged forthwith for allowing himself to be conscripted into what ever scheme the local prosecutor or Sarah Brady are engaged in. (Grandstanding indictments or insurance scams or whatever else).

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  10. i agree with Mr. Deco

    this sort of stupid flourishes though when there’s no accountability

    it’s telling that the washington post but not one but two propaganda whores on the story

    and not one of them reports on the names of the idiot who made the ruling

    i’m also curious how many people died cause of how the execrable james brady worked so hard to render so many americans defenseless in the face of violent crime

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  11. nk: Much appreciate your gracious response!

    Eugene Volokh (759dc0)

  12. In many respects, what happened to Jim Brady was homicide back in 1981. He died that day in all respects that matter.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  13. So, it is officially a homicide.
    Of course, there is very little vitriol left for Sarah to spew over the incident, none of which in my memory was directed at John Hinckley, where it rightly belonged.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  14. Total B.S. Not a homicide. We don’t enforce our laws anymore, so we might as well invent new laws too.

    Charlie (1bf147)

  15. I wonder if the coroner’s not so subtle motive here is to make sure that if there are any serious efforts to completely release Hinckley from confinement with the psychiatric facility (as opposed to the brief, electronically monitored trips he is allowed now), anyone opposing it will have an official document in their possession stating that Hinckley was directly responsible for the death of James Brady. Theoretically, it shouldn’t matter–but the people making these decisions are not immune to pressure from public opinion.

    M. Scott Eiland (8d3966)

  16. What if Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother had been expected for dinner at the home of Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s son the very day following JFK’s assassination? Would that curious set of circumstances give you pause? Now, Robert Oswald had no such dinner date, and of course Lyndon had no son, but that same peculiar arrangement was on tap for the very day following John W Hinckley Jr’s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

    Would-be assassin John Hinckley’s brother Scott and his date were to have dinner at the home of Vice President George HW Bush’s son Neil and his wife Sharon on the day following John’s attempt on Reagan’s life. Curious, coincidental you might say, but not all that strange when you consider the Hinckley and Bush families had long been on friendly terms, socially, politically, and in the oil business.

    When Hinckley Oil (later Vanderbilt Oil -> Energy -> Resources) needed money to stay afloat, Bush’s Zapata Oil obliged and saved the Hinckley family fortunes and when Bush ran for office the grateful Hinckleys quickly and reliably contributed. Hinckley Sr heavily backed John Connally’s attempts to deny Reagan the nomination and generously backed Bush in the GOP primaries.

    So, it really isn’t strange or curious at all that Scott Hinckley would have a dinner date with Neil Bush and his wife. Nor might it be all that strange to imagine that an unbalanced John Hinckley Jr would take it upon himself to avenge the bitter defeat of his family’s most important benefactor by elevating Vice President Bush to the Oval Office. Hinckley’s attempt on Reagan’s life occurred only 69 days into his first term.

    What is both strange and curious is that after (NBC Nightly News) John Chancellor’s single wide-eyed report of the aborted Bush/Hinckley dinner plans the shocking coincidence vanished from the airwaves and has never been mentioned in either the New York Times or the Washington Post.

    Another strange observation comes from White House Correspondent Sarah McClendon who was reported to have noticed the Secret Service’s protective team weren’t in their usual tight formation around Reagan as he departed the AFL-CIO meeting at the DC Hilton.

    Then their was NBC’s Judy Woodruff who reported that at least one shot was fired by someone she took to be a Secret Service agent from a hotel overhang above Reagan’s limousine which was dubbed the shot from the Bushy knoll.

    ropelight (b3d780)

  17. I wonder if the coroner’s not so subtle motive here is to make sure

    Not his job.

    if Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother had been expected for dinner at the home of Vice President Lyndon Johnson’s son the very day following JFK’s assassination? Would that curious set of circumstances give you pause?

    Lee Harvey Oswald’s brothers spent their adult lives in the military and in sales positions. Neither one was in a line of work that would have brought them into any kind of social contact with Lyndon Johnson’s daughters in 1963.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  18. AD, I made a bet with myself the first response would be from you. Which I appreciate, even if you missed the point.

    ropelight (b3d780)

  19. John Hinckley is where he’s supposed to be:
    Locked Up!
    It is only important to ensure that he dies there.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  20. so all the nonsense about Hinkley’s raging boner for Jodie Foster, that was justa CIA type black op.

    Hinkley’s boner. Youtube Mohammed vid caused Bengazi. It’s all of a part with these people isn’t it.

    I’m of the mind that John Hinkley Jr. not only wasn’t insane, he was malevalently evil, on a mission.

    He needs killing. And so that the delayed justice is rectified, the execution needs to involve swinging from a rope out front of the Hinkley house, so Mom and Pop can get a front row view.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  21. askeptic, you might be interested to know the judge who presided over Hinckley’s DC insanity trial, Barrington D Parker, was elevated to the federal appeals court by President George W Bush in May of 2001.

    ropelight (b3d780)

  22. Which I appreciate, even if you missed the point.

    There is no evidence for your thesis. Your ‘point’ is stupid.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  23. He died that day in all respects that matter.

    No, he had mobility problems and mild dementia. I don’t think he ever worked after that, which is unfortunate but not death.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  24. Well, tiger @ 9:46am, although I haven’t said the assassination attempt on Reagan was a CIA black op but I will admit the thought crossed my mind once or twice. Especially because Bush-41 had been appointed Director of CIA by Gerald Ford on January 30th 1976 and remained in that position till Jimmy Carter won the Presidency and replaced Bush with Acting Director E Henry Knoche till Stansfield Turner was confirmed on March 9th 1077.

    Bush’s appointment to head CIA was part of Ford’s Halloween Massacre, which began in early November ’75. Henry Kissinger was fired as National Security Adviser, although he remained Secretary of State, William Colby was fired as DCI and replaced with Bush-41, James Schlesinger was fired as Secretary of Defence and replaced by former White House Chief of Staff Donald Rumsfield, Dick Cheney replaced Rumsfield at the WH, Rogers Morton was replaced as Secretary of Commerce by Elliot Richardson, and Vice President Nelson Rockefeller announced he would not be Ford’s running mate in the ’76 election.

    The move, as bold, calculating and energetic as it was still couldn’t prevent a Carter victory.

    ropelight (b3d780)

  25. Geirge HW Bush was totally incompetent in all the jobs he did, and his appointment to the CIA wa the appointment of an outsider, but someone known to President Gerald Ford from his time in the House of Represenatives. (Election of 1966 to election of 1970. Nixon had persuaded him to run for the Senate, in an attempt to gain Republican control of it, and he felt he owed him things and he got appointed to a number of positions)

    It is an interesting idea that John Hinckley might have had a somewhat rational, or personal,, motive, but that doesn’t mean anybody else in his family, or anybody else in the world, wanted it. Most likely actually this goes in the 6 degrees of freedom department.

    Do you knwo if John Hinckley ever met George H.W. Bush?

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  26. I should say George HW Bush was totally incompetent in all the high level executive jobs he did certainly from the time he was appointed ambasador to the United Nations. He had no understanding of anything.

    Sammy Finkelman (4eddd7)

  27. The sky is blue. Two plus two equals four. The smartphone sketchy neighborhood app works.

    “Jodie Foster will notice me if Dad’s guy becomes president” sounds like sensationalized horseshit used for a coverup.

    Sorry. Just finding my bearings. Taking stock of reality.

    papertiger (c2d6da)

  28. Sammy, I can’t cite an example of Bush-41’s direct acquaintance with Hinckley Jr but since the families had long-standing deep social, financial, and political associations, and since Hinckley’s older brother was a friend of Bush’s eldest son Neil, it’s almost certain Reagan’s would-be assassin and Bush-41 were if not well known to each other, at least acquainted.

    Additionally, if you think Bush-41 was a CIA outsider, you haven’t done your homework. Bush was an active high-level but decidedly inconspicuous company man from well before the Bay of Pigs. Recall, if you will, James Colby’s description of an ideal agent as a gray man unnoticed by others. Colby’s son Carl wrote a 2011 book about his father, The Man Nobody Knew.

    Assuming Bush-41 was incompetent is about as wrongheaded as assuming John Hinckley Jr was out shooting ducks in downtown DC and hit Ronald Reagan by accident. Here are a few of Bush’s accomplishments in no particular order: youngest Naval aviator of his day, Yale graduate, millionaire by age 40, Congressman, DCI, 43rd US Vice President, head of Republican National Committee, UN Ambassador, Liaison to People’s Republic of China, POTUS, married to the same woman since 1945 (that’s nearly 70 years), father of a US President and a Governor of Florida.

    Agree or disagree with his politics or his policies, he’s apparently not be your cup of tea, or mine, but of all the things Bush-41 is, or may have been, incompetent isn’t one of them.

    ropelight (b3d780)

  29. I, too, am more of the Bush-41 as super-competent, hiding his light in a bushel, kinda guy.

    htom (412a17)

  30. That would be hiding his “thousand points of light” in a bushel basket, Eh!

    askeptic (efcf22)

  31. I should say George HW Bush was totally incompetent in all the high level executive jobs he did certainly from the time he was appointed ambasador to the United Nations. He had no understanding of anything.

    He enters the navy, is assigned to combat duty, is discharged a war hero. He enters Yale, graduates with honors juggling academics, sports, social life, and a wife and child. He and his wife leave behind everything they know, move to Midland, rent an apartment with a kitchen shared with a mother-daughter prostitute team next door, and founds a business; the business is sold 15 years later for a sum that in today’s currency amounted to $5.5 million. He enters politics through a challenging conduit, running as a Republican in Texas at a time when there was a grand total of one such in the Texas State Senate; he eventually achieves what only a single-digit collection of politicians do: the President’s chair. While in office, he organizes and prosecutes a lightening campaign which frees Kuwait and destroys the Iraqi Army as a fighting force. He cares

    There is one sort of person who would call this man ‘incompetent': someone who actually does have no understanding of anything.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  32. See, this is the issue that is relevant to the other thread about treating people like people. Everyone seems ready to put other people into a simplistic box with a label on it. I remember people calling GHWB a person who reminded women of their first husband. Which, given how long he has been married to his wife, is…um….ironic.

    I remember folks, over and over again, insisting that Reagan was stupid. Read his letters, and tell me that again.

    Mind you (as you wrote), you can disagree with a person’s politics. But the personal stuff is part of what is wrong with today’s society. Particularly as most people (ahem) never really think before stating their knee jerk Twitter style snark. Sigh.

    Simon Jester (741dce)

  33. John Hinckley is where he’s supposed to be:
    Locked Up!
    It is only important to ensure that he dies there.

    He’s at mom’s house half the time.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  34. Nice to see Eugene Volokh commenting here, by the way!

    Patterico (e102e4)

  35. the Hinckleys are truly lovely people is what i heard

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  36. I blame homophobia. If bigotry had not forced Jodie Foster to be in the closet back then, Hinckley might have realized he stood no chance and been content to pine into his hanky for a star-crossed love that was never meant to be.

    nk (dbc370)

  37. Nah, nk. He would have been the guy who turned her.

    Patterico (e102e4)

  38. and a time to every purpose under heaven

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  39. (me) “I wonder if the coroner’s not so subtle motive here is to make sure-”

    17. “Not his job.”

    Didn’t say that it was. Given that this is a blog based in Southern California, the concept that a coroner could have his own agenda that is not entirely consistent with doing his job properly should hardly be a novel one. (See: Noguchi, Thomas).

    M. Scott Eiland (15aac4)

  40. Which is why the corpus delicti must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt at the trial of the defendant in homicide cases. The ME’s opinion is only an opinion. The most drastic effect of the ME’s opinion, here, is on DC’s homicide statistics (for 1981?). Unless Brady had a life insurance policy with a double indemnity clause. That might be something to think about.

    nk (dbc370)

  41. The most drastic effect of the ME’s opinion, here, is on DC’s homicide statistics (for 1981?). Unless Brady had a life insurance policy with a double indemnity clause. That might be something to think about.

    I cannot figure out how Sarah Brady could manipulate the coroner into issuing a bogus ruling for such a purpose.

    While we’re at it, I checked some life tables compiled recording life expectancies in 1979/81. At that time, a 40 years old man such as James Brady had a life expectancy of 33.6 additional years.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  42. That race car murder also was probably not attempted murder (the killer driver probably wanted to splash mud) but would qualify as a murder because he had n business doing it and he should have known what could happen.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  43. Sammy, your comments grow more bizarre by the day.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  44. Tony Stewart probably didn’t intend to kill Kevin Ward, who had stepped out of his crashed car and wanted to yell at him, or throw his helmet at him, so it’s not attempted murder, but he wanted either to force him to step back or splash mud on him. But Stewart miscalculated.

    This is relevant to this thread.

    Sammy Finkelman (d22d64)

  45. keep your hands and feet inside the tram at all times

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  46. Sammy, your understanding of dirt track race conditions shallower than usual for you. Your speculation is ridiculous, I don’t call it laughable because its not amusing.

    SPQR (c4e119)

  47. I was repeating what I read another race car driver (whose niece, also a race car driver, was nearly killed by Tony Stewart last year) said. He wants Stewart banned from racing.

    NASCAR hothead Tony Stewart nearly killed a female driver last year on the same track where he mowed down a rival Saturday — and the woman’s family told The Post he should be banned from racing.

    “I’m upset because last year, Stewart did the same thing to my cousin, Alysha. He pushed her out of the way, broke her back and almost killed her,” said Greg Cooper, 44, a cousin of sprint-car driver Alysha Ruggles, on Tuesday.

    Ruggles, then 19, suffered a fractured back after her car was struck in a 15-car pileup caused by Stewart at Canandaigua Motorsports Park in July 2013.

    Cooper was at the track Saturday when Stewart fatally struck fellow driver Kevin Ward Jr. after Ward angrily got out of his car to confront Stewart about being knocked off course.

    Cooper said it was clear to him that Stewart was trying to teach the younger driver a lesson by “stoning’’ him with mud, or getting close enough to spray dirt on him. Only things went horribly awry.

    “[Stewart] has the audacity to come back this year and thinks he could just push more people around — this time, it was stoning a kid with mud,’’ Cooper said.

    “Stewart did this on purpose. He saw Ward out there and wanted to say ‘screw you’ in some way. He was just too close and ended up hitting him.

    If there was no mud to splash, that is wrong, but this was a race car driver saying that, who knew that track and was there.

    Unless what – this was a hoax played on the New York Post?

    Actually, my earlier theory was that he wanted to force Ward to step back. The mud theory assumes he didn’t know his car would shift to the right but they say all race car drivers know this. Maybe Stewart did but the less experienced Ward didn’t.

    Sammy Finkelman (b0c537)

  48. Actually the cousin is not himself a race car driver.

    You think maybe this person was an impersonator?

    Sammy Finkelman (b0c537)

  49. More videos are being released. Whatever Stewart did or didn’t mean to do, it appears (now) that Ward grabbed the wing of Stewart’s car. If so, it sounds like Darwin Award behavior.

    htom (412a17)

  50. Sammy – you, and the guy you are quoting, know jack about dirt track racing.

    JD (f87acf)

  51. Sammy – you, and the guy you are quoting, know jack about dirt track racing.

    When has ignorance prevented Sammy from pontificating on any subject?

    hadoop (f7d5ba)

  52. Sammy, a car fishtails when it brakes suddenly. It can do a 180, or 360 even, if you slam on the brakes depending on conditions. If Stewart thought Ward was going to walk out in front of him and braked, then it was nobody’s fault but Ward’s.

    nk (dbc370)

  53. I am trying to find that picture of a view from a sprint car.

    JD (43a15e)


    This does a good job describing it, but the picture is even more dramatic. Factor in night racing, a guy in a black speed suit being somewhere he isn’t supposed to be, and the nature of sprint car handling, and this was a recipe for disaster.

    What exactly was Smoke supposed to be so mad about that he would do what Sammah and the rest are speculating about?

    JD (43a15e)

  55. Video of a bootlegger’s turn for Sammy.

    nk (dbc370)

  56. it wasn’t even Ward’s fault per se it’s just a risky enterprise with all these cars whizzing around

    every year the number of people what drive onto racetracks never equals the number of people what drive off the racetracks

    and you know what that’s ok

    it’s just a thing

    happyfeet (8ce051)

  57. Sammy feet per sec – two objects moving at relatively the same velocity is much different than the closing speed to a stationary object.

    In other wise at over 120 mph by the time the driver focused – it was already too late

    EPWJ (8f5c4e)

  58. in other words – darn auto correct

    EPWJ (8f5c4e)

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